Board of Education Approves $2.2 Billion Budget Request

February 14, 2011
Recommendation includes no new programs, initiatives; Anticipates County meeting funding obligation

  The Montgomery County Board of Education approved a $2.2 billion operating budget request for FY 2012 today (February 14, 2011). The budget request includes no new programs or initiatives, but simply allows the district to continue providing a strong education to a growing number of students.

  The Board’s budget request—the least it can ask for under the state’s Maintenance of Effort (MOE) provision—will now be submitted to Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and the Montgomery County Council for consideration.

  “This is a responsible, maintenance of effort budget request that holds the line on spending while recognizing our obligation to provide an outstanding education to the children of Montgomery County,” said Board President Christopher S. Barclay. “We know the County Executive and County Council members have difficult decisions to make, but we urge them to meet their legal and moral obligation to our students.”

  The Board’s requested operating budget meets the provisions of the state’s Maintenance of Effort (MOE) law, which requires counties to fund education at the same per student level each year. For Montgomery County to meet MOE, it must increase local education funding by $82 million in order to account for increased enrollment of more than 3,300 students. If the county fails to meet its minimum funding obligation under MOE, the school district will lose at least $22 million in additional state aid.

  Over the past three years, the Board of Education and the employees of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) have saved more than $300 million. Among the savings: 

        - In FY 2011, MCPS eliminated more than 400 positions and increased class size by an average of one student across the system.

        - Central administrative services have been reduced by about 20 percent in the past three years, requiring the realignment of several offices and elimination of others. MCPS spends about 1.8 percent of its budget on central administrative services, its lowest level ever.

        - MCPS employees have not received cost of living increases for the past two years and also gave up step increases last year saving the district more than $115 million, annually.

  “We take our obligation to the taxpayers very seriously, and we have, and will continue to work very hard to be good stewards of public funds,” said Shirley Brandman, vice president of the Board. “We are already spending $1,000 less per student this year than we did last year and I’m afraid further cuts will dramatically impact the education we provide our students.”

State Revenue

  The Board’s budget request includes a $64.6 million increase in state funding to MCPS.

  Superintendent Jerry D. Weast’s recommended budget—released in December—anticipated a $27 million increase in state funding due mainly to the district’s rising enrollment. However, Gov. Martin O’Malley’s budget, unveiled last month, includes additional funding of about $37 million, most of which makes up for the loss of federal stimulus funds.

  “Gov. O’Malley showed his true commitment to education by making sure our students were not impacted by the sudden loss of federal stimulus funds,” Dr. Weast said. “Even in difficult economic times, the Governor made education a top priority and, for that, we are extremely grateful.”

  The Board’s budget includes $15 million in savings from the current budget that will be carried over to FY 2012. These savings were the result of a district-wide hiring freeze, expenditure restrictions and other cost-saving measures. Also included in the budget request is $4 million in federal education jobs funds that will be carried over to next fiscal year.

Difficult cuts ahead?

  The County Executive is expected to release his budget recommendation on March 15. The Council will begin its deliberations on the MCPS budget in April and will pass its FY 2012 budget in May.

  Faced with the possibility that the county will not meet its minimum funding obligation, Dr. Weast released last month a list of possible areas in the MCPS budget that would be reduced if the county does not meet its legal funding obligation. Among the possible reductions:

        - The elimination of nearly 200 teaching positions and an increase in overall class size saving $12.6 million.

        - The elimination of existing programs, including Outdoor Education ($597,000) and middle school extended day and extended year programs ($1.57 million).

        - Dramatic reductions to academic intervention teachers ($1.5 million), staff development teachers ($5.8 million), media assistants ($1.6 million), security assistants ($859,000) and other staff that directly serve schools and students, especially those who are at risk.

        - The elimination of high school activity buses ($294,000) and a reduction in funds for high school athletics ($1.08 million).

  “If the county does not provide any additional local revenue to MCPS this year, we will likely have to increase class sizes even further, eliminate hundreds of teaching positions and cut some very valuable, popular programs,” Dr. Weast said. “It is my hope that, like the Governor, the County Executive and the County Council will make a full commitment to education and the future of our children.”

Possible Cut List
- Board Resolution
- MCPS Budget Website

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